FAU Football: Overview of the 2023 FAU Football Schedule

A rundown on every regular season matchup as the Owls start their first season in the American Athletic Conference.


Erika Fletcher

Stock photo of 2023 FAU Spring Game.

Maddox Greenberg, Sports Editor

In the fall, the Florida Atlantic Owls will kick off their first season as a member of the American Athletic Conference (AAC). The Owls went 5-7 last season and were 4-4 against conference opponents last season in their final year in Conference USA.

After a devastating 32-31 loss at home against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in overtime, the Owls fired head football coach Willie Taggart after three seasons. Under Taggart, the Owls went to one bowl game and had two losing seasons. 

On December 3, former University of Texas at Austin Longhorns head coach Tom Herman was named as the replacement to Taggart and the sixth head coach in program history. Herman has had coaching experience in the AAC, being the head coach of the University of Houston Cougars from 2015-16, where the Cougars went 22-14 and won the AAC Championship in 2015.

Herman also has coaching experience in bowl games. He took the Longhorns to four straight bowl games from his first year in 2017 to his last in 2020. The Longhorns won every bowl game under Herman. Herman is undefeated in bowl games in his head coaching career (5-0).

Herman took a two-year hiatus from coaching, where he joined the National Football League (NFL)’s Chicago Bears as their offensive analyst in 2021 and then CBS as a broadcaster in 2022. During the offseason, the Owls acquired a new coaching staff and several big-name transfers and recruits, including  former Purdue University running back Kobe Lewis and former University of Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson, who played for Herman’s Longhorns.

Also during the offseason, the Owls lost several players, including starting quarterback N’Kosi Perry and offensive lineman Brendan Bordner, who declared for the NFL Draft in January. Other key losses were wide receiver Jahmal Edrine and Jaylen Joyner to the transfer portal.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced the Owls’ 2023 football schedule in the middle of the spring semester. The Owls will be playing some big name football programs and will face some familiar foes from Conference USA. While the AAC gained six new football programs, they also lost three big name schools to the Big 12 conference: University of Houston, University of Cincinnati, and University of Central Florida.

Here is what the 2023 football schedule looks like for the Owls:

Game 1- vs. Monmouth University Hawks

9/2 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

2022 record: 5-6, 3-5 CAA

Kicking off the first game in the Tom Herman-era, FAU will face the Monmouth Hawks. Coaching the Hawks since 1992, Kevin Callahan saw Monmouth through three different conferences, including in their debut in the Colonial Athletic Association last year. The Hawks will have a new quarterback at the helm of the offense, as last year’s starter Tony Muskett transferred to the University of Virginia. 

In their conference debut, the Hawks led the CAA in scoring offense, averaging 36 points per game and totalling 54 touchdowns while also allowing 428 points. The Hawks also had the lowest scoring defense in the CAA. 

Game 2- vs. Ohio University Bobcats

9/9 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

2022 record: 10-4, 7-1 MAC

For the second straight year, the Owls will face the Bobcats after FAU traveled to Ohio and fell 41-38 in their road opener. Last season, Ohio had the 73rd-best rushing offense in the nation averaging 143 rush yards per game, and the 43rd-best scoring offense in the nation averaging 31 points per game which ranked best in the Mid-American Conference. On defense, Ohio had 36 sacks for 262 yards, the 2nd-best in the MAC. Their 10-win season was first since 2011 and fourth in program history.

MAC Coach of the Year Tim Albin signed a contract extension with Ohio tying him down until 2026, and extending his tenure to six years. The Bobcats will also be joined by returning MAC Offensive Player of the Year redshirt junior quarterback Kurtis Rourke. 

The Bobcats finished last season with a win against Wyoming in the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl, 30-27.

Game 3- at Clemson University Tigers

9/16 8:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network

2022 record: 11-3, 8-0 ACC

In their third game of the season FAU will hit the road to take on Clemson, which is looking to return to the College Football Playoffs for the first time since losing to Louisiana State University Tigers in the 2020 National Championship Game. Clemson is one of plenty of teams that lost significant players to the 2023 NFL Draft, including edge rusher Myles Murphy and defensive lineman Bryan Bresee.  

The Tigers acquired some new talent both on the field and off the field. Off the field they brought on offensive coordinator and quarterback’s coach Garrett Riley who was most recently an assistant coach at Texas Christian University. After the departure of quarterback DJ Uiagalelei to Oregon State University, the Tigers acquired quarterback Cade Klubnik from Texas.

Returning for the Tigers next season is standout running back Will Shipley, who posted 1,182 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns last season, tied-14th best in the nation. Clemson is projected to end their season 11-3 again, per NCAA

Game 4- at University of Illinois Fighting Illini


2022 record: 8-5, 5-4 BIG 10

Just after their game against a tough opponent like Clemson, Florida Atlantic faces another road challenge against Illinois. The Fighting Illini had the best scoring defense last year, allowing an average of 12 points per game. Though losing running back Chase Brown to the NFL, the Fighting Illini brought aboard a recruiting class headlined by four-star wide receiver Malik Elzy.

They will be retaining head coach Bret Bielema under a new contract extension after leading them to their best record in 15 seasons. FAU is 1-9 overall against BIG 10 opponents, with their only win in 2007.

Game 5- vs. University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane


2022 record: 5-7, 3-5 AAC

The Owls’ first test in their new conference comes on October 7 as they’ll host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Last season, Tulsa went 2-4 in road games, while the Owls were 4-2 at home.

Tulsa added three transfers in the offseason, including one coming from Oklahoma State University, defensive end Ben Kopenski. Another recent addition to the Golden Hurricane is head coach Kevin Wilson, who became the school’s 34th head coach in early December. Wilson replaced Phillip Montgomery, who led the Golden Hurricane to four bowl games in eight years, and took them through a historic 2020 season where they were undefeated in conference play.

Last season, Tulsa was seventh in the AAC in scoring offense (30.6 PPG) and ninth in scoring defense (33.1 PPG). They also added several offensive weapons to help the quarterbacks and several defensive playmakers to improve on the defense.

Game 6- at University of South Florida Bulls


2022 record: 1-11, 0-8 AAC

This will be the fifth time the Owls will take on USF in program history. The Bulls lead the series, 3-1, with the Owls winning the last matchup in 2013. 

Following a 1-11 season, the Bulls signed Alex Golesh to become their sixth head coach. The Bulls have not beaten an AAC opponent since 2021, and ended last season on a ten-game losing streak. The Bulls finished last season with the ninth ranked scoring offense (23.2 PPG) and tenth ranked scoring defense (34.7 opponents PPG) in the AAC. They struggled in the trenches last, ranking eighth in the AAC in rushing offense, and tenth in rushing defense. The Bulls allowed on average 263.3 passing yards and threw 192.4 passing yards per game.

This matchup will also reunite the Owls with former defensive line coach Kevin Patrick, who now serves the same role for the Bulls. Also on the Bulls staff is former FAU defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Todd Orlando.

Game 7- vs. University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners


2022 record: 11-3, 8-0 C-USA

The first former Conference USA opponent FAU will be facing is UTSA. The Owls are undefeated against the Roadrunners, last facing them in 2020.

Coming off of another winning season under two-time Conference USA Coach of the Year Jeff Traylor, the Roadrunners are looking to continue from where they left off. They finished the season 11-3, and debuted in the College Football Playoff Rankings for the first time in program history.

The Roadrunners have acquired quarterback Owen McGown, son of former NFL quarterback Josh McGown, and JUCO transfer Willie McCoy.

Game 8- at University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers

10/27 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 2

2022 record: 3-9, 2-6 C-USA

In week eight the Owls will take on the 49ers, who’ll also be joining them from C-USA. Last season, the Owls took down the 49ers, 43-13, in their season opener. 

Much like FAU, Charlotte will have a new head coach looking to turn the program around in Biff Poggi. Poggi last coached as the assistant head coach for the University of Michigan Wolverines before becoming the third head coach in Charlotte’s football program.

Charlotte was very active in the offseason and saw massive roster turnover, obtaining 40 new players with 15 transferring from Power 5 schools. Charlotte will be without some big name players, most notably sophomore wide receiver Grant DuBose who was taken in the seventh round of this year’s NFL draft. DuBose scored eight receiving touchdowns, tied seventh in Conference USA, and averaged 5.33 yards per game, eighth best in Conference USA.

Last season, Charlotte finished tenth in C-USA in scoring offense, last in scoring defense and total defense, third in red zone offense and fourth in red zone defense.

Game 9- at University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers


2022 record: 7-6, 4-4 C-USA

In the first week of November the Owls will face familiar foe, the Blazers, for the tenth time in school history. The Owls have a 6-3 series lead, and have went 2-2 when playing them on the road

Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer was named the seventh head coach for the Blazers in November. Dilfer is replacing interim head coach Bryant Vincent, who replaced Bill Clark when he announced his retirement last June.

Much like the Owls, the Blazers will look very different than the last time both teams faced each other. Not only did they change their coaching staff, the Blazers lost several key players to the pros. Last year’s starting running back DeWayne McBride went to the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round of this year’s NFL Draft. McBride was second in the nation with 1,713 rushing yards. They’re also losing wide receiver Trea Shropshire, who was seventh in C-USA with 923 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season. They’ll also be without quarterback redshirt junior Dylan Hopkins, who transferred to the University of New Mexico.

Game 10- vs. East Carolina University Pirates


2022 record: 8-5, 4-4 AAC

Another tough AAC opponent on the Owls schedule will come at home against the Pirates. Last season, ECU was sixth in the conference in scoring offense averaging 32.5 points, and scoring defense allowing 27.2 points per game. Their defense found success against the run, and finished with the second ranked rushing defense in the conference; But finished with the worst ranked passing defense.

The Pirate lost some key players last season to the pros: quarterback Holton Ahlers and wide receivers C.J. Johnson and Isaiah Winstead. Ahlers was third in the AAC in passing with a 67.2% completion percentage, throwing for 3,708 yards and 28 touchdowns. Winstead and Johnson were both fourth and sixth in the conference in receiving yards last season, respectively. Winstead caught 88 passes for 1,085 yards and six touchdowns. Johnson caught 67 passes for 1,016 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Pirates ended their season with now fifth-year head coach Mike Houston leading the team to a dominant 53-29 victory over Coastal Carolina University in the TicketMaster Birmingham Bowl.

Game 11- vs. Tulane University Green Wave


2022 record: 12-2, 7-1 AAC

The 14,047-student private university from New Orleans, Louisiana ended their season with a shocking 46-45 upset over the University of South California Trojans in the Cotton Bowl. Tulane finished the season ranked 9th in the nation. Since then, Tulane has added some big name transfers, including wide receiver Yulkeith Brown from Texas A&M University and linebacker Tyler Grubbs from Louisiana Tech University. 

Last season, Tulane was 6-2 on their home turf, and 4-5 against AAC opponents. The Green Wave’s head coach, Willie Fritz, won the Bobby Dodd Trophy Coach of the Year award.

Game 12- at Rice University Owls


2022 record: 5-8, 3-5 C-USA

Ending FAU’s first regular as a member of the AAC will be another foe from Conference USA: Rice University. 

Rice has nine total players on the Preseason All-AAC team, with outside linebacker Josh Pearcy being the only on the first-team. Pearcy led the team with 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles. 

Rice has added some new coaches to their coaching staff, all on the defensive side of the ball. Rice allowed 34.2 points per game, eighth in Conference USA. Rice was 13th in Conference USA in interceptions and seventh in sacks by the defense.

Maddox Greenberg is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM via Twitter @MaddoxGreenberg and Instagram @maddoxblade04.